Money20/20: BankMobile asks millennials to help build a bank for young people

Money20/20: BankMobile asks millennials to help build a bank for young people

BankMobile, the latest US digital-only bank hoping to win over the millennial crowd, is preparing to launch in beta with 5000 customers by the end of the year.

A division of Customers Bank, which is focused on the mass affluent market, the new venture will offer young Americans the usual range of products - checking, savings, access to credit - through a mobile platform.

However, unlike some neo-banks, it does not want to discard the personal contact that branches have traditionally provided. Speaking to Finextra at the Money20/20 conference, chief strategy officer Luvleen Sidhu said that millennials may not want to visit branches but they still have a desire to talk about big financial decisions with experts.

BankMobile has decided to solve this problem by promising every customer their own dedicated personal banker who will know their financial situation and can be reached on the phone for advice.

Sidhu thinks that, while products and slick technology interfaces are valuable, this kind of customer service is a key differentiator in a crowded market, where rivals are jostling to sign up young, potentially valuable clients.

Another advantage BankMobile has on the customer acquisition front is Customer Bank's relationship with Higher One, a firm that distributes college students’ financial aid reimbursements via debit card accounts. Customers Bank sits behind Higher One, servicing millions of students who then move on once they have graduated. BankMobile is hoping to convince many of them to sign on with it.

Although pitching itself as an alternative to traditional providers, the new venture thinks that its relationship with Customers Bank and experience within the industry will help it avoid some of the pitfalls that neo-bank trailblazer Simple has faced.

Despite its high profile and big money acquisition by BBVA, Simple has failed to build up a significant userbase and many of the customers it does have been beset by technical glitches, unable to access important services.

BankMobile will use its beta phase to iron out problems ahead of a full launch in April and stresses that it is looking for feedback from its first 5000 customers. Says Sidhu: "We will launch in our most basic form, and then use crowdsourcing to co-build a bank with millennials that they can finally feel they love."

Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 06 November, 2014, 15:59Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

In all this debate about whether branches are required or not, it's often forgotten that bankers can sell big ticket products much better with face-to-face contact in a branch than via remote channels. I suspect this is unstated in BankMobile's decision to supplement the digital channel with live telephone, the next best alternative to a branch.